I’ve been drawn to Arthurian legend for as long as I can remember.
When I realized a few years ago that I didn’t have an answer as to why I’m interested in the tradition, I thought about it and figured it must have started with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (Mark Twain), which I read an abridged version of when I was about 10 or 11.
One of my favorite scenes from that book: when Hank smokes through his helmet and they all think he’s a fire-belching dragon. Also the pigs/princesses, especially because the book I read (above) had an illustration there with actual pigs and not princesses. I can’t find an image of that online, but interestingly, I found this:
What’s interesting is that I liked the illustrations in the edition I read because it showed reality while everyone was hallucinating or making things up, and here the illustration shows Hank as a fire-belching dragon. In fact, I found this image as part of “centaur alternatives.” How does an editor/illustrator choose to show reality or the fantasy? Now there’s something fun to think about…
As an undergrad, I tried a few times to take a course on Arthurian literature, but every time I registered or almost registered for a class, something came up and I couldn’t take it.
I wrote my senior thesis on Arthurian literature without ever having formally studied the tradition itself. I had an amazing thesis director who guided me in reading texts that could help me get the basics in addition to the scholarship needed specifically for my paper.
But I never gave up on the dream of systematic study of Arthurian literature and legend.
Now that might be happening…
The University of Exeter is offering a summer course on Arthurian legend this year, and I was so excited when I found out about it, I just applied right away.
But it’s kind of expensive, what with airfare on top of tuition.
The program offered me a partial scholarship, which helps tremendously, and I’m working on applying for academic grants. I also set up an Indiegogo campaign to supplement that.
I desperately want to get to this program. The syllabus touches on so many aspects of Arthurian legend that interest me: history, kingship, chivalry, court life, magic, and the continuation of the legend in contemporary media.
Besides, I’ve been dreaming of traveling in the UK for so many years. Maybe even since I read The Secret Garden and heard the sound of the wind on the moors.
I was also always interested in accents, which made me want to visit the UK even more. There are some really bad movies I watched just because they were set in Scotland or Wales or somewhere with a recognizable accent.
This is my Grail, and I’m chasing it!